Published: 15 July, 2010
by JOSIE HINTON
A RETIRED jazz photographer who snapped world-renowned musicians Miles Davis and Sonny Rollins died when a fire ripped through his Somers Town home.
Freddy Warren, 71, who had lived alone in his flat in Grafton Chambers, Grafton Place, for 40 years, was killed when the blaze broke out in the living room, just yards from Euston fire station, on March 29 at around 5am.
St Pancras Coroner’s Court was told on Tuesday that the fire was caused when a discarded cigarette fell on to the futon where Mr Warren slept. He died from smoke inhalation.
Speaking outside the inquest, family members paid tribute to an “extremely talented photographer” and Jazz fanatic.
Mr Warren’s nephew Simon Whittle said: “He started off as a Fleet Street photographer working for the Mirror but he loved music and used to be at Ronnie Scott’s every night. He became friends with all the jazz stars of that era.
“All his LPs are signed by Miles Davis and on one he has even written his address, with an invitation to come and visit.
“He shot many album covers at that time and did a book that was given out to friends of Ronnie Scott as a present.
“It’s such a tragedy because he had many more photographs that hadn’t been seen. It’s absolutely amazing the collection he has left behind.”
Mr Warren, who was also known for his love of high-diving, was alone in his flat when the blaze broke out. Investigators initially thought a propane gas heater in the middle of the room could have caused the fire, but ruled it out due to the nature of the damage in the room.
Six fire engines were deployed to the fire, which spread through the Victorian block. Eleven people escaped from the building but no one else was hurt.
The inquest heard how Mr Warren had been offered a smoke detector by social services, but declined as he felt it would be set off by cigarettes.
Fire investigators found eight disposable lighters on the edge of the futon where he was lying.
Coroner Dr Andrew Reid recorded a verdict of accidental death.
Two other fire-related fatalities in Camden within a month of Mr Warren’s death were also caused by discarded or fallen cigarettes. Victims were a man at a Wellesley Road care home in Gospel Oak and a disabled woman at her home in West Hampstead.